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Capital IDs Single Sign-On Solution

Single sign-on capability is enabled for providers, group administrators and brokers with OpenNetwork's DirectorySmart.

As it prepared to begin offering integrated coverages that included physician services, in addition to the hospitalization benefits that it had become well-known for,Capital Blue Cross (Harrisburg, PA, $1.2 billion in assets) found itself in a bit of a bind. Because the health insurance underwriter would be working on the expansion in conjunction with its subsidiary, Capital Advantage Insurance Co. (Harrisburg, PA), most of the project's IT budget would be allocated for core infrastructure integration needs. But as the number of providers it needed to service grew, so too did Capital Blue Cross' identity management needs.

"Our goal was to provide single sign-on capabilities that would allow access to back-end applications," says Kent Whiting, vice president of information technology, Capital Blue Cross. "Some of the applications are hosted here at Capital and some are hosted at the company's ASP partner," TriZetto Group Inc., Newport Beach, CA. According to Scott Mangol, director of e-commerce, Capital Blue Cross, the carrier wanted to provide the single sign-on capability for each of Capital's constituents. Those included providers, group administrators, brokers and members.

In September of last year, a team composed of members of Capital's IT security and Web development groups, in conjunction with employees of TriZetto Group, began its search for a scalable identity management tool. Capital BlueCross estimated that it would eventually need to provide identity management for thousands of providers and hundreds of thousands of members, says Whiting. "The issue was, we were working with a limited budget," Whiting relates.

Capital Blue Cross needed to find a tool that could integrate with its current directory structure, Microsoft's (Redmond, WA) Active Directory. Additionally, the team required that its eventual tool would be easy to administer and deploy. After reviewing six vendor products the team agreed to award the contract to OpenNetwork (Clearwater, FL) for use of its DirectorySmart. The impetus behind the decision was the vendor's "willingness to invest some additional time and effort in the integration," says Whiting. Additionally, adds Mangol, the tool fit seamlessly into our infrastructure environment.

Identifying a Solution

After OpenNetwork was brought in to assess Capital's systems, the implementation kicked off in October 2002. At this time the names and passwords of brokers were migrated from the old system to the DirectorySmart system that had already been installed. Additionally, benefit administrator names were collected from the end users by Capital's business team, and the IT security group created IDs and temporary passwords. In November 2002, the single sign-on capability was rolled out to brokers. "We wanted to make sure that the transition was seamless," says Mangol. "Our key goal with this implementation was not to interrupt business." The first time brokers signed on to the new system the only thing that they had to do was change their password.

The next group added to the system was group administrators, and the application that this group would access was hosted by the carrier's ASP. Although the process of signing on to Capital's site appeared seamless to group administrators, the authentication process is completed on DirectorySmart, which runs on Capital's Dell (Round Rock, TX) server operating in a Microsoft IIS environment on Windows 2000. Then the information is passed along to the ASP via a frame-relay connection.

On January 2 of this year, providers were granted access to information such as claims status, referrals, benefits and eligibility, through Capital's Web site.

"When providers entered the site, they initiated a self-registration procedure," explains Mangol. Providers were asked questions about their specific business, and responses were compared against information housed in Capital's databases. The provider implementation was deemed the most successful because it had the fastest adoption rate. As of January, more than 1,000 provider transactions were being completed each day.


Case Study Closeup


Capital Blue Cross, Harrisburg, PA, $1.2 billion in assets.


Health insurance.


OpenNetwork (Clearwater, FL) DirectorySmart; Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Active Directory; Dell (Round Rock, TX) server.


Find an inexpensive, scalable ID management tool.

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